Oslo is one of the eco-friendliest cities in the world. One in four new cars sold in Norway is electric. As a result, the streets of the Norwegian capital are surprisingly quiet. Still, when it comes to music, the volume in Oslo is currently on full blast: The city is riding a new wave of homegrown electro pop. Singer-songwriter Fanny Andersen, one of the scene’s rising stars, shows us some of her most inspiring places in Oslo – in a smart fortwo electric drive.
Fanny Andersen curls her fingers around the microphone in an Oslo practice studio and tosses her long orange hair away from her shoulders. She’s running through her set list for a gig she’s performing this weekend in Vulkan, one of Oslo’s newest neighborhoods. Formerly an industrial zone, it has been transformed into a vibrant mix of bars, restaurants, galleries and office spaces – all sustainably built. It’s also the venue for the smart electric base during its Oslo stop of a tour around Europe and the US. Visitors to this mini festival by smart can enjoy test drives, inspiring talks and secret gigs. Fanny’s band strikes their final notes and she grabs the keys to the smart fortwo electric drive – conveniently matched to her hair – to show us where she gets her inspiration.
Hi Fanny! Our car for today seems to be a fitting choice – judging from your hair color.
Fanny Andersen: It is (laughs). I’m trying to get orange hair extensions down to my waist at the moment – it sounds crazy but I think it’ll look really cool.
What does your stylist think about it?
Fanny Andersen: She knows I like doing crazy things. I want to be a part of every creative decision that’s made about me.
Do you feel Oslo suits your personality?
Fanny Andersen: Oslo is super creative and cool, with areas like Vulkan and especially Grünerløkka, which is my favorite place to hang out. You can express yourself and be whoever you want to be. You can wear whatever you like without people judging you.
What is Grünerløkka all about?
Fanny Andersen: It’s great for shopping. I love vintage clothing. Retrolykke Kaffebar is one of the best shops around. A friend’s mom started it, first as a coffee shop but now they have clothes too. The whole place is inspiring because it’s just so different. I come here when I have a lot on my mind and need to chill out – when my brain needs to relax for a bit.
It sounds like you have a lot going on …
Fanny Andersen: It’s been crazy. I had been trying the music thing for a year and a half and it wasn’t working. I decided to release my song “Kids” on my own. My plan was to stop performing and study music management. But the day the song was released, it got some heat. My future manager contacted me and helped me with some more promotion. Universal Germany then gave me an amazing offer and I signed with them in February this year – just two months after “Kids” came out.
Your momentum coincides with a new wave of Norwegian music, right?
Fanny Andersen: We’ve always watched our neighbor Sweden doing amazingly with music – Abba, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii – but last year it really took off for musicians from our own scene. Artists like Astrid S and Aurora show that Norway finally has a place in the music world – it’s super cool to be part of this new wave.
Norway is also at the forefront of some super green technology. What’s with all these electric cars?
Fanny Andersen: If people buy a car now it’ll be electric – or a hybrid. I love it. It’s so quiet!
And we can’t help but notice a lot of sustainable architecture in the city.
Fanny Andersen: You should see the harbor development. There’s the Oslo Opera, which I love. But one of my favorite places is Vippa – it’s a street food market in an old warehouse. There’s everything from pizza to Thai food and burgers. But you have to try Norwegian salmon. It’s the best. There’s a place that serves it in sushi bowls – delicious.
It’s lovely to look out on the water here.
Fanny Andersen: It’s a great view, but I can show you a better one.
We hop back in the smart fortwo electric drive and head south to the elegant neighborhood of Ekeberg, where Fanny was born. She is singing along to every song on the radio while pointing out places from her childhood – where she played handball, for example, and a field outside her school across which they used to ski in the winter. The car climbs up the hills around Oslo until we reach Utsikten Ekeberg, a vantage point that overlooks the city below. A few selfies later, we’re back to Grünerløkka to scout a dinner spot.
What do you recommend?
Fanny Andersen: Definitely Nighthawk. It’s an American diner. When I lived right down the street, I came here all the time. There are booths so it’s quite private and you get your own space, which is important for us Norwegians. The burgers are so good, and the pancakes. And the milkshakes. And the cocktails. Everything here is good (laughs).
Where would you say is your favorite place for music?
Fanny Andersen: Blå, no question. You can never know what to expect when you go to that bar. There’s so much different music. It’s been really important for many Norwegian acts and a big part of the music scene – lots of people had their first gigs there. It was supposed to be shut down but everyone protested because of its importance for our culture – and we won.
Since releasing “Kids”, Fanny Andersen has traveled to London and Berlin to record music, alongside working with her band at home in Oslo. She is planning on releasing an EP this year. Visit her Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter.
Local Secrets Oslo:
Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1
The Nighthawk Diner